Thursday, May 27, 2010

Simon J. Ortiz: May 27. 1941--

"Simon J. Ortiz (born on May 27, 1941 in Albuquerque, New Mexico is a Native American writer of the Acoma Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the second wave of what has been called the Native American Renasssance. He is one of the most respected and widely read Native American poets.

Ortiz, a full-blooded Acoma Pueblo, is a member of the Eagle or "Dyaamih" Clan. He was raised in the Acoma village of McCartys (or "Deetzeyaamah"), and spoke only Keresan at home. His father, both a railroad worker and a woodcarver, was an elder in the clan who was charged with keeping the religious knowledge and customs of the pueblo." (above quotation from the Wikipedia entry on Ortiz)

I thought I would post two of his poems today: the first is about Ortiz with his father and the second is Ortiz with his own son.

My Father's Son

Wanting to say things,
I miss my father tonight.
His voice, the slight catch,
the depth, from his thin chest,
the tremble of emotion
in something he has just said
to his Son, his song:

We planted corn one Spring at Aacqu--
we planted several times
but this one particular time
I remember the soft damp sand
in my hand.

My father had stopped at one point
to show me an overturned furrow,
the plowshare had unearthed
the burrow nest of a mouse
in the soft moist sand.

Very gently, he scooped tiny pink animals
into the palm of his hand
and told me to touch them.
We took them to the edge
of the field and put them in the shade
of a sand moist clod.

I remember the very softness
of cool and warm sand and tiny alive
mice and my father saying things.


I take him outside
under the trees,
have him stand on the ground.
We listen to the crickets,
cicadas, millions years old sound.
Ants come by us.
I tell them,
"This is he, my son.
This boy is looking at you.
I am speaking for him."

The crickets, cicadas,
the ants, the millions of years
are watching us,
hearing us.
My son murmurs infant words,
speaking, small laughter
bubbles from him.
Tree leaves tremble.
They listen to this boy
speaking for me.

I wonder what Ortiz's father was saying and what Ortiz's son was saying for him.

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